Friday, April 23, 2021

Music from A-Z

Chris the Collector seems to have touched on a topic everyone is dying to talk about: our musical tastes. We all know each other's tastes in cards and some bloggers occasionally post about music, but we don't know as much about our fellow bloggers' musical predilections, too. It has been fun for me to read what everybody is listening to.

If I had done this exercise 20 years ago, I think my answers may have been more eclectic and probably easier to think of. In adulthood, I've found a comfortable "groove" in my musical habits. As a result, this list is probably narrower than it would have been when I was younger. In fact, there were more letters than I originally thought that I had only one answer for, and a few that I had to stretch a little.
For artists that I have more affinity for than others, I'll share my go-to album. Even some of my honorable mention bands will have a go-to listed, if I know more than one and they're really a favorite.

A: Athenaeum

Man, I wore out their "Radiance" CD back in high school. I don't expect many others to know them, though.

 Go-to Album: Radiance

B: Better Than Ezra

If I were to make a Top 5 list, Better Than Ezra makes the list. This was a no-brainer for me, even though "B" is a strong letter for my favorite artists.
Go-to Album: Closer

Honorable Mention: Blackhawk (Love & Gravity), Barenaked Ladies (Gordon), Clint Black (One Emotion)


C: Counting Crows

Yes, you're definitely seeing my generation bias in this exercise. I make no apologies.
Go-to Album: This Desert Life

Honorable Mention: Cake

D: Dave Matthews Band

Dave Matthews has been my favorite for a really long time. "D" was another strong letter, but no one else was even considered.

Go-to Album: Busted Stuff

Honorable Mention: Dispatch (Bang Bang)

E: The Eagles

This one may flip-flop with Eve 6, depending on my mood. And I'm often in the mood for Eve 6. But if I consider the overall body of work, The Eagles get the edge.

Go-to Album: Self-Titled

Honorable Mention: Eve 6 (Self-Titled), Evan & Jaron (Self-Titled)

F: Ben Folds

Ben Folds is just so much fun. His music is so serious sounding, almost soulful, but the lyrics? They reveal that he's just a smart aleck. But his songs always have a story to tell. Way back, when I was still a teen, I thought it would be fun to make a compilation of stories based on Ben Folds's songs, with more fleshed-out characters and deeper plot lines. I still haven't done it, but now that I've written it out, I might have to get to work on it.

Go-to Album: Whatever and Ever, Amen

Honorable Mention: Fastball (All the Pain Money Can Buy)

G: Garth Brooks

I may cheat a little on this exercise. Some solo artists will be used for their last names (like Ben Folds above), others for their last. I feel it gave me a more accurate list to do it that way. Garth wasn't going to beat out Better Than Ezra for "B," but my all-time favorite list wouldn't be complete without him. So he slots in at "G" here.
Go-to Album: Fresh Horses

Honorable Mention: Goo Goo Dolls (Dizzy Up the Girl)

H: Harvey Danger

They might be a one-hit-wonder, but this band is criminally underrated. I love their music, but I especially love their lyrics. How many other bands would think up a song called "Carlotta Valdez" that rocks out the storyline of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo? Great stuff.

Go-to Album: Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone?

I: Imagine Dragons

By default, really. I liked their first two albums, but not much since then. I'm not one of those snobs that Nachos Grande mentioned who thinks they "sold out," but I don't care much for the evolution of their music. Nobody else even comes to mind here, though.

Go-to Album: Night Visions

J: Jack Johnson

This was another no-brainer. 
"Jack Johnson. Next!"
Go-to Album: Brushfire Fairytales

 Honorable Mention: Billy Joel


K: Kid Abelha

The only non-English speaking artist to make the list (though you will find another in the honorable mentions later on). This Brazilian band plays just my style of music and I love Paula Toller's voice.

Go-to Album: Acústico ao Vivo

L: Chris LeDoux

I'm going full-on cowboy on you here. This is the music I was weaned on. I've always loved LeDoux because he was a true cowboy, making a living on the rodeo circuit before his singing career. Coming from a family in which I had two uncles who were pro bronc ropers and two cousins who rode bulls professionally, I've spent plenty of time at the rodeo too.
Go-to Album: Western Underground

Honorable Mention: Live, Legião Urbana, Lifehouse (No Name Face)

M: Matchbox 20

I used to really love Matchbox 20. As the years have progressed, I find myself loving them even more today. When some of their later stuff came out--and Rob Thomas's solo stint--I thought it was only "okay." Now, even all of that has grown on me and Matchbox 20 became a clear-cut favorite of mine.

Go-to Album: Mad Season

Honorable Mention: Jason Mraz (Mr. A-Z), Edwin McCain (Misguided Roses), Pat McGee (Save Me)

N: Nickel Creek

Yes, I listen to bluegrass. In fact, this won't be the last banjo-heavy artist on the list. When I was 16 and 17, I spent a few days each summer working at the Birch Creek Bluegrass Festival, serving Cokes and listening to the bands play, then camping out at night. That was a lot of fun.
Go-to Album: Self-Titled

Honorable Mention: Matt Nathanson (Beneath These Fireworks)

O: Old 97s

This was a very tough choice to make. Both Old 97s and Our Lady Peace instantly came to mind for "O", with neither standing out above the other. They couldn't be more different, either with the Old 97s 12-string, alt-country guitar and Raine Maida's falsetto intonations over a hard rock guitar for OLP. In the end, I leaned toward Old 97s because even though I get into moods when I just have to hear Our Lady Peace, I am always in the right mood for Old 97s.

Go-to Album: Fight Songs


Honorable Mention: Our Lady Peace (Happiness is Not a Fish You Can Catch)

P: Phillip Phillips

As a Dave Matthews fan, I can easily understand why I loved Phillip Phillips from the moment I heard him. There are times when I'm listening to Phillips that I could swear it's actually Matthews singing. As a non-fan of American Idol, I also believe this is the only time an alum from the show will make this list.

Go-to Album: The World from the Side of the Moon

Q: Queen

This is just by default. I wouldn't consider myself to be a fan of Queen. I have exactly zero songs on my phone by Queen and have never owned an album. Still, I like pretty much every song I know by them and never change the station when Queen comes on the radio. Bonus points for my 10-year-old claiming "Bohemian Rhapsody" as his favorite song.

R: Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband

Another bluegrass-type group, with the frontman playing a fiddle while singing lead vocals and one of the band's two major radio releases titled "Banjo Boy."  A local product, Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband holds the distinction of being the only band I have seen in concert multiple times--five times, to be exact.

Go-to Album: Simplify

 S: Sister Hazel

"S" is a strong letter; I could have chosen any of my honorable mentions for the list and been satisfied. But Sister Hazel has long been one of my favorites and they have so many songs I love that it would be difficult for any other band to match, even if I absolutely loved their style.
Go-to Album: Somewhere More Familiar

Honorable Mention: Stroke 9 ("Nasty Little Thoughts"), George Strait ("Chill of an Early Fall")

T: Third Eye Blind

I truly love this band. My single favorite song of all time is their "Motorcycle Drive By," so they definitely have that going for them. But they earned this spot on more than the merit of that song. Their first album is a masterpiece, and they followed up with Blue, which isn't far behind.

Go-to Album: Self-Titled

Honorable Mention: Tonic (Lemon Parade), Josh Turner (Your Man)


U: U2

Let's be clear here: I'm not a U2 fan. I never have been. In fact, I dislike most of their music until the 2000s. That's a good portion of their body of work that I'm not fond of. In my opinion, their best album is Songs of Experience, released in 2017. That's not recency bias speaking; that's when I first heard an album that I enjoyed from them. But there really is no other choice for "U". 
Go-to Album: Songs of Experience

V: Vertical Horizon

"V" is also slim pickings because there aren't too many choices. Luckily, I only needed one and I really am a big fan of this band.

Go-to Album: Running on Ice

W: The Wallflowers 

There was a time when Bringing Down the Horse was my most listened-to CD, but then there was never a follow-up. Still, nothing better comes to mind for me than Bob Dylan's kid's group.
 Go-to Album: Bringing Down the Horse

Honorable Mention: Weezer (The Blue Album)


X: X Ambassadors???????

I think I know one song. There might be a second if I thought about it. But that's one more song than pretty much all other "X" artists combined, so here we are.

Y: Yellowcard

I'm always a sucker for a good fiddle. A good fiddle in punk rock? Yes, please! The first time I heard Yellowcard I was hooked.

Go-to Album: Ocean Avenue

Z: Zeppelin

If I'm being transparent here, this is a cop-out on two levels: first, Led Zeppelin shouldn't count as a "Z". I doing it anyway. Second, I don't want to masquerade as a Zeppelin fan. I mean, I like their music, but to say that I'm totally familiar with all of their work would be a lie. Truth be told, I've only started to get into Led Zeppelin in the past year. Somehow I missed out on their music for most of my life. But I'm finding myself liking them more with the more I hear.

Most Honorable Mention of All: Millennial Choirs and Orchestras

I'd be wholly remiss not to mention this outstanding musical group. I guess when I said Ryan Shupe and the Rubberband was the only artist I'd seen in concert more than once, I was wrong. I've watched MCO perform at least twice year since 2013, when my wife and oldest son joined. Now, my wife and all three kids have had the opportunity to perform at some of the finest concert halls in several states, record studio albums, and film music videos. When I tell people that my wife and kids perform in a choir, it's really hard to convey to them that this isn't a typical community choir. You have to hear them to understand. The most common reaction we've heard from people who see a concert for the first time is, "I had no idea!" I've mentioned MCO on the blog once before, but I'll give you two music videos to see for yourself. None of my family members appear on screen in the videos, but their voices are part of the recording you hear.
"Amazing Grace"--Original Arrangement by Millennial Choirs and Orchestras

The next one is more like a David Archuleta music video, with MCO as backup, but one of the choir's conductors wrote the arrangement and asked Archuleta to perform as soloist in the song for this year's Easter concert. It's an original arrangement of a Christian rock song by Zack Williams.
"Old Church Choir"--Millennial Choirs and Orchestras, ft. David Archuleta

If you want some good music, albeit without the video, you can check out their Youtube channel. And if you listen, just know that Mrs. Bump and Run and all the little Bump and Runs are singing in the recordings.

Well, that about wraps up my musical tastes. As I mentioned early in the post, it's not very varied and most of it resides in one particular era, but I'm okay with that. There was a time when I was always trying to discover new music, but I have other interests and things that take up my time now, so I stick with my old standbys.

Thursday, April 22, 2021

State of the Set: 2012 Rookies and Stars

I feel that there are too many sets on my wantlist that have been sitting there for years while I slowly chip away at them. Last year I noticed that a lot of those sets are well within striking distance this year, so I've tried to swing some trades for set needs while focusing my recent Sportlots purchase on sets as well. I was able to kill a good number of sets this way, and I'm continuing the practice this year. I'll still write an end-of-the-year sets completion post in December/January, but I also want to track some of my set acquisitions along the way.

Today we'll look at a set that flies under my radar most of the time: 2012 Rookies and Stars football.

Why I'm collecting this set: Years ago, I bought a Dollar Tree gravity feed box because it was cheap. I came within a card or two of the veteran base and substantial number of rookies, so I thought I'd finish it off. Starting at #216, the "base" cards of the top rookies are all autos, which I am not chasing. So for my intents and purposes, rookies like Andrew Luck, RGIII, and Russell Wilson don't exist in the checklist. However, you can see from the picture above that there are still some solid rookies in the base set. Lavonte David and Stephon Gilmore stand out, but Melvin Ingram, Kevin Zeitler, Janoris Jenkins, and Dont'a Hightower have built pretty good careers, while Kellen Moore is going to be a hot coaching commodity in the near future.

How long has it been on my wantlist (roughly)?: Five, six years now. 

Current state of set completion: 210/215 (97.7%)

Current needs: 151 (Alfred Morris), 156 (Bobby Wagner), 163 (Courtney Upshaw), 177 (Harrison Smith), 215 (T.Y. Hilton)

Prognosis: This has been a somewhat challenging set for me. I'm not sure why. A partial explanation could be that the set is a little bit boring to me. Another possible explanation is that I am demotivated by the fact that I'm not going to complete the full set, so it doesn't feel like a real chase. Yet another explanation is that they're hard to find for trade. I'm feeling fairly certain that nobody collected this set; therefore nobody has any to trade. I've had some luck finding them on Sportlots, but I always seem to have higher priorities when buying. The cards shown here all came from my most recent Sportlots order. With only five cards left, I should be able to polish it off. But I'm not making any promises as to how soon that will happen.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

"Opening" Day 2021

My kids don't follow sports the way I do. They take a barely casual interest in it, once in a while asking me how the Jazz or D-Backs are doing, but they don't pay much attention to professional sports. They enjoy playing on their Little League teams, but that's about it. But they understand my obsession and little traditions, which led to this exchange with my oldest on April 1.

Me: "Do you know what today is?"

Son: "No. What?"

Me: "It's Opening Day!"

Son: "So are we going to go get some cards?"

My wife barely tolerates my collecting, so I have stopped trying to get the kids involved because it bothers her so much and they don't seem to care. But they do know the Opening Day tradition of cracking some baseball card packs. That is pretty much all they get of cards for the year. For me, Opening Day for baseball is "Opening" Day for a box of cards, sometimes the only box I'll get to break for the year. It certainly looks that way for this year, and I explained to my son that I didn't buy them any packs because cards are nowhere to be found right now.

But I did have my pre-ordered box of Topps Opening Day on hand for my opening.

I've seen Flagship going around on the blogs, and the consensus is that it's not Topps' best effort. I've seen pictures, but this is the first I've seen the design in hand. And I have to say that I don't hate it like expected. In fact, I kind of liked it as I sifted through the pile and sorted the set. The small name font didn't bother me like I thought it would (full disclosure: my eyesight is still nearly perfect, so you might have to give me a few more years to take issue with it). I think it's my favorite Flagship design since at least 2018, and maybe even longer. We'll see how my opinion evolves as time goes on.

There was one major beef I had with this box: for the first time in my tradition of opening Opening Day on Opening Day, the box did not yield a complete set. I'm still 13 cards away from the base set. I received only two dupes, so the reason I fell short of the base set was the number of inserts I pulled. The two dupes, for those interested in trading, are #26 (Brett Gardner) and #63 (Carlos Correa).

Even though I like the base design, I've already decided that I won't be buying any unopened packs of Flagship because I don't like the inserts. The Flagship inserts are too much of the same thing, regurgitating past designs and expecting me to chase them. Well, I won't. Inserts have typically been better in Opening Day, but this year, I was underwhelmed here too. Take this set: it's a good checklist and I considered building it, but the look of it is just "blah" to me. After sitting on the decision for a few days, I decided to keep Jackie, Willie, Ichiro, and Roger for my collection, but the rest are up for trade. Oh, and I pulled two Jackie Robinsons, so I have a copy available of that one, too.

Mascots are a yearly Opening Day staple, but I don't collect them. All of these are available, plus a few others that I didn't scan. And I have two copies of the Blue Jays' mascot, Ace.

The Opening Day insert is also a staple. Some years I chase it; some years I don't. It's a "no" this year. I also received a dupe of one of these cards (though I forget which one right now). That makes three insert doubles in the box, while I didn't even get my base set! All of these are up for trade  if anybody is interested.

Ahh, now here is the set that I want to complete. These five get me halfway there. I'd be interested in trading for the other five if you've got them available. I like the looks of this one and I like the commemoration of Opening Day achievements and not just the ballpark on that day. 

Of course, there is the annual blue foil parallel, which allegedly has a print run equal to the year, but is never serial-numbered as such. These cards look pretty good, but I'm not interested in any of these players, so all are up for trade here.

And for the third straight year, I beat the odds (1:228 this year) and pulled a relic.

So there's good and bad. I ended up liking the design way more than I expected. I pulled a non-guaranteed hit. But the inserts were somewhat uninspired and I ended up with insert dupes. Plus, the relic took up the space of three cards, so I think I would have preferred to get closer to the base set, which I didn't polish off in one box this year. But it's always a fun break and I've already received a trade offer on TCDB this morning that will net me six of the thirteen set needs. The other seven are posted on my Want List page. If you see something you want here, let me know and let's trade!

Friday, April 2, 2021

Last of the Card Show: The Quarter Box Deals

These were my favorite deals of the card show. All of these came from my buddy Aryn's quarter boxes. You'll see vintage, refractors, serial numbers, Cubs, Packers, and various mini-collection hits here.

Heisman winners in college unis!

All 2000s team, including a pair of rookies.

All-Decade, 1980s and 1990s.

Vintage Packers. You know, Ron Widby recently passed away. During his college years, he transitioned from QB to punter because of an injury. Even cooler: he was the 1967 SEC Player of the Year in basketball for Tennessee.

More modern Packers, including a new Jordy Nelson and my first Scott Tolzien card.

All 2000s team. All but one are inserts or serial-numbered.

Cards from sets that were not yet represented in my quest to collect one base card from every football set ever made. I'd never before seen the 1997 Pinnacle Inscriptions set (represented by Jim Harbaugh), and it is astounding. I wish I'd picked up a few others.

Refractors Frankenset.

Some Cubs.

All-Star MVPs. 2011 Topps Ichiro is a popular card; I'm glad to finally have one of my own.

Rookie of they Year, including some nice vintage.

All-Time All-Star collection.

More All-Time All-Stars, Yankee style. I learned when I was logging these into TCDB that Russo apparently doesn't have too many cards to choose from.

These cards don't fit any collection. I just thought they were too awesome to pass up. John Matuszak is better known to me as Sloth in The Goonies, since I was born after his playing days.

All these cards for $.25 apiece! That wraps up my card show haul. Which card was your favorite here? Let me know in the comments.